The Wright stuff - Scott Pilgrim review

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There were whoops at the opening credits. There were more whoops as the end credits. There were also whoops at the trailer for the soon-to-be-reissued Back To The Future — which should give some indication of the kind of crowd that gathered last week to watch an early screening of Edgar Wright's latest movie, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World.

Adapted from the cult comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, the Shaun Of The Dead director's latest film follows the romantic trials of Scott (Michael Cera), a twentysomething slacker in Toronto whose main preoccupations are playing bass in a struggling garage rock band called Sex Bob-omb, moping around in the snow with his parka on, and patronising his devoted high school girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong).

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As the film opens, Scott is receiving grief about his cradle-snatching love life — chiefly doled out by his gay room-mate Wallace (a nicely acerbic Keiran Culkin) and straight-talking sister Stacey (Edgar Wright's real-life girlfriend Anna Kendrick). The situation is worsened by the arrival of Ramona Flowers (a winning Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a pink-haired Amazon.ca delivery girl whom Scott first encounters when she rollerblades through the desert landscape of his subconscious (she later explains the portal is a handy shortcut). Scott is smitten, but in order to date Ramona he needs to defeat her seven evil exes in a series of Mortal Kombat-style face-offs. Oh, and dump Knives.

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Yes, that's right. Rollerblading through his subconscious. Mortal Kombat-style face-offs. As you may have gathered, the world that Scott Pilgrim must face is not this one exactly, but a heightened, video-game-inspired head rush that goes by in a whizz of bright colours and typographical sound effects (telephones don't just ring, they emit the words "RING! RING! RING! RING!" right there on screen). Life moves fast, actions happen in vapour-trailed crash zooms, and conversations last for an average three seconds.

In this, Wright is pretty faithful to O'Malley's books, which present the irreverent Linklater-style shit-shooting of Scott and his friends in Manga-esque drawings. And there's a huge amount to enjoy about his movie version — the face-offs with the exes allow brilliant comedy muscle-flexing from Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman, while the energy and dynamism of Wright's stylistic experiments are dazzling. We know from Spaced and Shaun Of The Dead that Wright is a man who knows his way round a video arcade, so he's in his element here — by the time you leave the cinema, you're half-expecting energy-level indicator bars to hover in the sky and the street around you to collapse into pixels.

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Michael Cera, with his familiar high voice and veal-calf colouring, provides a nice counterpoint to all the craziness — plus he gets to execute a few flying kicks, which haven't been a big part of his oeuvre to date. If there's a failing, it's in the slightly unprepossessing romantic storyline — Scott and Ramona are no Rett and Scarlett — and the unrelenting pace, which can at times means that lines of dialogue are delivered with such lightning speed that they almost become subliminal messaging. Also, one can't help but feel nostalgic for some of the brilliantly observed banalities of British life that were so much a part of Shaun Of The Dead, but Wright was always a director whose talent would draw him to bigger and better things — or at least to Canada.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is out on 25 August